Poughkeepsie, NY Trains Collide, Jan 1856


A terrible collision occurred on the Hudson River Railroad, about one and a half miles South of Poughkeepsie, on Wednesday the 9th, resulting in the death of three persons and severe injuries to many others.

The Albany Express train, which started on her south trip at 11 A.M. Wednesday, arrived at Poughkeepsie at 1 1/2, having been detained one hour. After leaving that station, when near old Troy, at a mile and a half from Poughkeepsie, she was stopped by a red flag, because of a broken rail some distance ahead. At this time the way passenger train from Poughkeepsie, which should have left at 2 1/4 but which was detained to 3 1/4, because of the detention of the former train, came on.
The conductor of the leading train saw the other approach, and at once jumped from the platform on which he was standing, and went towards her, waving the red signal, but too late, for she ran into the Express, smashing two cars and breaking up one of the two engines that were drawing her.
The foremost train had five passenger cars, one baggage car and one engine. The way train was drawn by two engines and had two cars.
The foremost engine of the hind train ran into the hind cars, crushing one to atoms, and gutting a second, and smashing the engine "Missouri." The cylinders of that engine were completely crushed and the water, rushing out, scalded several.
The wreck was complete. Men, women and children lay in a promiscuous heap, and the groans of the wounded and dying, with the escape of steam from the imbedded locomotive, and the struggles of those who had sufficient
strength, endeavoring to extricate themselves from the fearful prison, constituted a scene of awful terror.
Within a quarter of a mile of the scene of the accident (north) is a curve. It was on reaching this point that the Engineer of the Express train saw the signal. And although moved by but one engine, the train could not be stopped within a shorter distance than it was. Aware of this, and apprehensive of the danger which was pending, the conductor, as soon as his train stopped, sent back the flagman, hoping that he might reach the curve before the approaching train. But in this he failed. Before he reached the curve the train appeared.
The brakes were immediately applied; but being moved by two locomotives, the train could not be stopped within the same compass which answered to stop the Express train; - the same signal practically warning both trains.
For, although the flagman went back, he might as well have remained at the point where he signaled the Express train, as the signal would have been seen there as soon as at the point it had reached.
The following is a list of the killed:
MRS. HURLBUT, of Albany.
A man supposed to be JAMES GORDON, of Clinton, Canada West.
The third person killed by this accident was a man whose name is at present unknown. His death must have been quicker than thought for all that remained of him was a mass of shapeless matter. His legs had been cut off at the knees, and were only united to the body by a few ligaments; his trunk was torn open, and all that remained of his head was a small piece of the base of the skull with a few brown hairs sticking to it, and a portion of his under-jaw. His clothing was all cut to pieces, and the only means of identifying him will be by the baggage-checks found in one of his pockets. Papers found near where he lay seem to show that his name is JAMES GORDON of Canada West.
The children of MR. ROBERTS, of Albany, were injured seriously. The boy was badly scalded and bruised; so also was one of the girls; the other girl was considerably cut and bruised, but none of them are considered to be dangerously injured.
MR. and MRS. ROBERTS were slightly injured.
MR. J. D. GORR, of New York, though somewhat bruised, returned to the City yesterday.
MR. ABEL PRIEST, of New York, has a bad cut in his head, but is not considered as in a dangerous condition.
CATHARINE HOWELL, a colored woman residing in New York, had her head and limbs bruised, and her collar bone broken, but it is thought she will recover.
MR. BOGART, of New York, had his head cut and his side and limbs somewhat injured, but not dangerously. He returned to the City yesterday.
MRS. CAMPBELL, of Utica, was but slightly injured.
CAPT. SCHUYLER, of Albany, was badly mutilated, but he is not thought to be dangerously injured.
GEORGE HARRINGTON, of Washington, D.C., had his face scalded, and was otherwise injured, but not dangerously.
DANIEL LORD, ESQ., of New York, was slightly injured, but he was able to return to the City yesterday.
JAMES LUDLUM, of New York, was slightly injured, but was able to return to the City yesterday.
JAMES A. DISBROW, of Poughkeepsie, was slightly injured.
Among the missing is MRS. RUFUS BLANCHARD, of New York, who was not heard of after the accident. She had been married two days. Her husband escaped without injury, having left the back car a moment before the collision to speak to a young lady, an acquaintance, who had taken a seat in the second passenger car. MR. BLANCHARD had but just stepped upon the platform of the second car, when the crash occurred, and he immediately jumped to the ground, exclaiming, "Is the back car smashed?" Diligent inquiry failed to elicit traces of MRS. BLANCHARD up to the time the train left for New York.
The verdict of the Coroner's Jury exonerates the Conductor and Engineers of the Express train; they approve the system of flagmen, but think that more competent persons should be employed; they censure the Conductor of the Poughkeepsie train for following the express train so soon, and think that the engineer of the last train should not have run so fast.

Bradford Reporter Towanda Pennsylvania 1856-01-19